It’s the week before Christmas — and an onslaught of prestige pictures — but this week belongs to what is surely the most eagerly awaited movie of the year — maybe of several years. It’s the Next Big Thing that puts every other Next Big Thing to shame. It’s so big, in fact, that it’s hard to imagine anything ever living up to this level of furor again. Once Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens, what will be left to look forward to?
The thing that is most surprising about this week is that two other movies are being released. Why? I guess they had to go somewhere and this is the somewhere they landed. That they could find room is actually remarkable. I don’t know what the story is at the other theaters where Star Wars is playing, but The Carolina has six screens of it. That’s close to half the theater. (This imbalance won’t last, since there are, I think, seven movies opening next week.)
In addition to the Biggest of Next Big Things and the suicide duo, we also get Janis: Little Girl Blue — opening Friday in limited shows (7 p.m. only with 9:30 late shows on Friday and Saturday). This really solid and appealing documentary on Janis Joplin is reviewed in this week’s Xpress, where it got “Weekly Pick.” (Before you get too carried away, the only competition was In the Heart of the Sea.) It’s one of the best researched music documentaries I’ve ever encountered — and one of the most human, thanks to a narration made up of Joplin’s letters. For that matter, it’s also one of the best edited. If you’ve any interest in Janis Joplin, you need to act fast.
We also have (Clapton knows why) Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip — opening Friday (with no Thursday evening shows) at Carmike 10 and The Carolina. The poster assures us this is “FAST & FURRY-OUS.” What more needs be said? That this makes the fourth of these…things is alarming in itself, though I suppose it fits in with the general state of the world. The good news from where I sit is that I reviewed the first one, Justin Souther reviewed the second, I reviewed the third — and that means, yes, indeed, it’s Justin’s turn in the chipmunk barrel!
And then there’s Sisters — opening Friday (with Thursday evening, etc.) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. This appears to be yet another of those two-women-one-raunchy-com things. In this case the women are Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and the raunchy-com revolves around said siblings throwing one last wild party at the house they grew up in before their parents sell it. It’s from director Jason Moore, who was responsible for Pitch Perfect (2012), for what that’s worth. Intriguingly, Sisters is opening with 23 reviews, and 20 of them are positive. That they’re also mostly British reviews might be worth factoring in.
Finally, there’s, yes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens — opening Friday (and, most certainly, Thursday evening) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Co-ed of Brevard, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. (In other words, it sucks to be the Beaucatcher.) Here it is, have at it, knock yourselves out. I have no great personal interest in this, but I seriously hope it’s everything everyone hopes it will be. Yeah, I’ll be there and I’ll review it and all that — not that anyone really cares what critics say about it.
Now, what we lose this week gets tricky because Star Wars has thrown things into a mess. The easy one is to note that Brooklyn loses its 7 p.m. show (and the 9:30 Fri-Sat late shows) at the Fine Arts. Brooklyn has also been split with Spotlight at The Carolina, while Trumbo has been split with Creed, but just how these splits are being handled is up in the air at the moment. I can safely say, on the other hand, that Macbeth will be gone come Friday — and most (maybe all) will be washed away next week. OK, here’s how those splits at The Carolina work out — Brooklyn (1:45, 7:30), Spotlight (10:55 a.m., 4:20, 10:10 p.m.), Trumbo (10:50 a.m., 1:30. 4:10, 9:454 p.m.).
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has with Bob Clark’s Black Christmas (1974) on Thu., Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Milcho Manchevski’s Before the Rain (1994) on Fri., Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Asheville Film Society continues its seasonal Satoshi Kon’s Tokyo Godfathers (2003) on Tue., Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress and in the online edition.
This week we find Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, He Named Me Malala, Ted 2, and Fantastic Four. I’d go with the first two and leave the others alone.